Georgia: progress made, but items remain to be addressed, including with regard to the independence of the judiciary

“Over the last decade Georgia has made considerable and consistent progress in honouring its accession commitments and membership obligations, in full co-operation with the Council of Europe,” said Kerstin Lundgren (Sweden, ALDE) and Titus Corlatean (Romania, SOC), co-rapporteurs for the monitoring of Georgia, in an information note declassified today, following their fact-finding visit to Tbilisi (20-22 November 2017). At the same time, the co-rapporteurs underlined that a number of items remained to be addressed, including with regard to the independence of the judiciary.

In addition, Ms Lundgren and Mr Corlatean urged the authorities to continue the investigation into the case of Azerbaijani journalist Afgan Mukhtarli, who was kidnapped in Georgia and illegally transported over the border with Azerbaijan to face trial in Baku. They also expressed concern about reports of harassment of Azerbaijani residents and asylum seekers in Georgia by persons that were allegedly linked to the Azerbaijani authorities. “These reports should be fully investigated and any harassment of Azerbaijani citizens residing in Georgia should be brought to an immediate halt, irrespective of whom the victims or perpetrators may be,” they said.

With regard to the case of Mustafa Emre Çabuk – whose extradition is requested by the Turkish government for alleged links to the Gülen movement – and the decision not to grant him refugee status, the co-rapporteurs stressed that any decisions with regard to asylum and extradition requests should be fully in line with humanitarian and human rights law.

The co-rapporteurs, who visited the Administrative Border Line separating the breakaway region of South Ossetia with the rest of Georgia, reiterated the Assembly’s respect for the territorial integrity of Georgia and inviolability of its borders and condemned to continuing borderisation and creeping annexation of the breakaway regions by the Russian Federation. They are due to make a fact finding visit to the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia in the near future.